A New Deal for the Arts
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"This is an easy-to-read book, free of artistic jargon. The art is indescribably wonderful."
-Caryn E. Neumann, American Reporter
During the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s and into the early years of World War II, the Federal Government as one of its efforts to employ some of the millions of Americans then without work supported the arts in unprecedented ways. For 11 years, between 1933 and 1943, Federal tax dollars paid artists, musicians, actors, writers, photographers, and dancers. Never before or since has our Government so extensively sponsored the arts. This book, based on a 1997 NARA exhibit, tells the story of these short-lived, but remarkable, cultural endeavors.
The New Deal arts projects provided work for jobless artists, but they also had a larger mission: to promote American art and culture and to give more Americans access to what President Franklin Roosevelt described as "an abundant life." The arts projects covered the entire country and reflected the broad diversity of American life. They supported African American and Yiddish theater; employed Native American, Hispanic, women, and black artists; sponsored contemporary dance; and preserved traditional folksongs and stories. The projects saved thousands of artists from poverty and despair and enabled Americans all across the country to see original paintings for the first time, attend their first professional live theater, or take their first music or drawing classes.
The topical organization of A New Deal for the Arts reflects several of the important themes found within New Deal art the projects' use of American history, their celebration of the common man and woman, their support for the New Deal, their political activism and the art that was a product of these concerns, and their sponsorship of "practical" arts.
8 1/2" x 11", 144 pages, 134 illustrations (25 in color)
National Archives and Records Administration and the University of Washington Press, 1996